Ciaran Clark produced a fantastic display in yesterday’s 1-1 draw against Southampton. Going into the game, the Villa defence was labelled as ‘very weak’ by many journalists and fans who had predicted that Southampton would be able to exploit Villa last night. Instead, Clark produced a very strong leadership role in defence alongside young centre-back Okore. Clark organised the defence well, made several vital interceptions and a couple of excellent tackles. Additionally Okore played very well, in what was his first Premier League appearance for over a year.
What impressed me the most about Clark was his motivation, he had played the majority of the game with a black-eye and not even a facial injury could disrupt his performance. Eventually Aston Villa conceded in the 81st minute, however the defence can’t be fault as it should be a midfielders obligation to track back income full-backs.
The reason I’m writing this is because I can see a good defensive future without Ron Vlaar. I’m not certain if he will stay at the club or not, but if he does decide to leave; I personally believe that Villa have 4 very strong centre-backs to adapt to Vlaar’s departure. This would also allow Lambert to use any potential funds (and wage) for the purchase of a much needed attacking midfielder. Nathan Baker has grown the most over the course of the season. Baker has been very dedicated, strong and is willing to put his life on the line to defend Villa’s goal. I still think Clark has some way to go to match Baker’s performances. But the Southampton game was a step in the right direction.